Losing weight and keeping it off used to be a real struggle for me. I’ve dabbled in the South Beach Diet, Weight Watchers, The Zone, and Atkins. I went raw (and back), tried the Master Cleanse and once ate nothing but cabbage soup for a week.
Nothing ever worked long-term. Any weight I lost through dieting always returned, along with some extra pounds. After restricting my food choices for years, I also picked up an eating disorder and depression.
If only I’d known then that I was doomed to fail. According to nutrition expert Dr. Traci Mann, who has studied dieting for over 20 years and runs the Health and Eating Laboratory at the University of Minnesota, all weight loss programs are doomed to fail.
As Dr. Mann told the Washington Post recently, this is because for dieters, food “looks more tempting, they’re hungrier than they should be, their body is getting by on fewer calories, and everything is just working against them.”
Which explains why I stopped dieting many years ago, and started living better.
Of course, it didn’t happen overnight. But here’s how I did it:
- I made a list of all the natural weight loss hacks I’d ever come across. (Literally hundreds.)
- I printed them, cut them apart and put them in a jar, as if they were cookies.
- Two or three times a week, I’d grab a “cookie” (really, just a health hack) and if I liked it, I’d make it part of my routine.
Want to give it a try?
Here are 30 tricks that have worked for me, and I hope a few of these resonate with you:
- Drink a glass of lukewarm lemon water first thing in the morning.
- Make sure to get at least seven hours of sleep every night. This will help balance your hormones, including the ones that regulate appetite.
- Have some protein with every meal.
- Eat a handful of nuts every day.
- Buy yourself a pedometer and start moving. Your daily goal? 5,000 steps.
- Drink at least 10 glasses of water throughout the day.
- Eat from dark plates.
- When you feel like you need comfort food, call a friend or family member or go for a walk before you snack.
- Rinse your mouth with vitamin C powder dissolved in water when cravings strike.
- Find 10 recipes with oats and make one whenever you need a snack or a healthy breakfast.
- Drink a glass of grapefruit juice 30 minutes before every meal.
- Have three main meals and two snacks every day and don’t eat between meals. If you find yourself tempted, reach into your Mason jar and find another health hack to try.
- Find seven green smoothie recipes and have one a day.
- Eat more black beans.
- Instead of watching TV while you eat, download a free 20-minute nature sound. Only have a second portion if you still feel hungry after listening until the end.
- Snack on water-rich foods, such as cucumber, celery, lettuce, radishes, or tomatoes.
- Spice up your food with HOT sauces and salsas.
- Always sit down to eat. (Just not in front of your laptop or TV!)
- Buy yourself a beautiful journal and note what you eat, how this food makes you feel and WHY you eat. Stop buying anything that makes you feel crap.
- Had a big lunch? Make it a small dinner.
- When waiting for dinner, don’t fill up on bread.
- Brush your teeth before a meal. That “fresh mouth” feel will make you think twice before you eat and more likely to know if you’re truly hungry or just looking to nosh.
- Find five ways to move more. Some ideas: walk your (neighbor’s) dog, take the stairs, or dance while brushing your teeth. Get creative!
- Use a small spoon for sampling dessert instead of eating the whole thing.
- Find at least five recipes with avocados and have them as often as possible.
- Use plain cashew butter instead of mayonnaise.
- Drink milk thistle tea.
- Wear fitted clothes when dining out.
- Research foods high in omega 3 fatty acids and load up on essential fats.
- Munch on carrots while eating TV.
It might sound a little far-fetched, but this jar changed my life.
1. Instead of dreading diet restrictions, I looked forward to implementing hacks.
2. Implementing hacks was fun rather than restrictive.
3. I lost weight naturally.
4. After a while, I looked better than ever before.
5. My mood improved.
6. Over time, I managed to implement a completely different lifestyle.
7. I no longer suffer from disordered eating. I listen to my body and enjoy all kinds of foods.
Of course, I sometimes I forgot about a hack. That’s why I always put them back in the jar until I’d grabbed them several times and felt I no longer need reminders.
Today, I’ve got a beautiful Mason jar filled with all kinds of life hacks, including some DIY beauty recipes, self-love rituals, workout tips, and fun games to play with the family. My kids love to grab one every now and then.